Reflections from Pastor Debbie
May 8, 2020
In Celebration of Mother’s Day
One of my favorite quotes of all time is from a 14th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart, who says “all people are meant to be mothers of God, giving birth to God’s presence in the world.”
My own mother died in September 2009, while she was in the hospital recovering from knee replacement surgery, from a pulmonary embolism. I had been staying with Mom and Dad in Georgia during the time of her surgery but had returned home to North Carolina after she was recovering and doing well. One afternoon a few days after returning home, I received a call from my father: “We have lost your mother.” “What do you mean, you have lost her? Did they move her to a different hospital room?” She died suddenly with my father sitting beside her hospital bed, talking with her. It took me a few moments to comprehend what my father was telling me.
Mom always told us she wanted Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus to be sung at her memorial service. My sister and I tried our best to talk her out of it; how would it appear if the family opted to sing hallelujahs at her funeral? And Mom and Dad were members of a small country church in Northeast Georgia; to ask that small choir of volunteers to sing such a challenging piece of music seemed daunting. My mother was stubborn and dug in her heels. Unless we wanted to be haunted by her spirit for the remainder of our days, we complied with her wishes.
My mother contended that singing a portion of Handel’s Messiah was about the words, our faith and worship. It was not about performance. God didn’t care how perfectly we sang but that our song was from our hearts. And the words: God omnipotent reigns, hallelujah. He is Lord of lords and King of kings, hallelujah. And he shall reign forever and ever. Truthfully, my mother lived this faith. God was Lord of her life. Christ was her King of kings. And she believed with her whole being that God was in control of her life and the world. And she wanted that message to be sung and preached at a memorial service celebrating her life and new life of the resurrection. That small choir invited the congregation to join in singing with them. I can honestly tell you that I have never heard the Hallelujah Chorus sung more beautifully, the words and music resonating across the valley where my parents’ family of faith worshipped. My mother was right and I am glad she dug in her heels. My mother, in so many ways, gave birth to God’s presence in the world. She was kind and I never heard her criticize or judge another person. She was generous and giving, volunteering hours and hours of time through our church’s outreach ministries. She worked tirelessly for diversity, serving as chairperson of the Atlanta chapter of Friendship Force for many years. She demonstrated hospitality, always opening our home to people from around the world. She always believed that people could grow and change, becoming the people God created them to be. She always believed in the possibility of new life; she lived as a person who believed in the resurrection.
My mother was not lost to us. She continues to give birth to God’s presence in the world through those who have loved her.
You and I are also called, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to give birth to God’s presence in our world.
Reverend debbie osterhoudt
I am very excited to join in the ministry at Peace Presbyterian Church as interim pastor! I graduated from Vanderbilt University and received my Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA. Before serving at Peace Presbyterian, I served in Triangle area churches as pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor for 33 years. I have a passion for my ministry and study, travel, walking, sailing (which I learned from my father) and gardening.